Inbox: Are the Rangers interested in signing Tanaka?
Inbox: Are the Rangers interested in signing Tanaka?
By T.R. Sullivan
Do the Rangers have any interest in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka? I know they already have a set rotation and Tanaka figures to be pretty pricey, but we have seen how quickly the rotation can be depleted by injury. Have they scouted him as extensively as they did Yu Darvish?
-- Andrew C., Nashville, Tenn.
Major League Baseball is still trying to work out a new posting system with Japan, so Tanaka is not yet available. If he does get posted, he will be quite expensive, more so than Darvish because there are reports that the Yankees and other big-market teams will get involved. The attraction is that the posting fee does not count against the luxury tax that the Yankees and others are anxious to avoid.
The Rangers have scouted Tanaka, but they still have to be concerned about the finances no matter what are the luxury tax implications. Texas is focused more on offense. Pitching depth is a concern, although the Rangers still have Nick Tepesch, the inexplicably forgotten Josh Lindblom, possibly Robbie Ross and top prospect Luke Jackson in reserve. Lesser free agents could also be signed. If Tanaka gets posted, the Rangers may submit a bid, but they could get blown out of the water by richer teams.
Would the Tigers consider swapping Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler straight up? It's my understanding they could use the contract relief, and we could use the middle infielder relief.
-- Trace K., North Richland Hills, Texas
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The Tigers could definitely use Kinsler as a leadoff hitter, but don't seem to be yearning for salary relief. Detroit wants a World Series title and doesn't appear to be worried about the future. Fielder is only 29 and is due $168 million over the next seven years. His .457 slugging percentage this past season was the lowest of his career. The question is was that an aberration or the sign of a downward trend that could make this a tough contract to deal with similar to Albert Pujols with the Angels.
With all the talk of possibly moving one of Elvis Andrus, Kinsler or Jurickson Profar, coupled with the need to fill left field and possibly upgrade first base, are the Rangers also pursuing a conversation with Kinsler about moving to one of those positions?
-- Drake D., Prosper, Texas
The Rangers have discussed this internally, but they have not yet approached Kinsler about it. Instead the Rangers have talked about possibly trading one of their infielders. It is interesting that they are being so upfront about that. Perhaps they are trying to send a message that if Kinsler wants to stay in Texas -- he says he does -- then it's time that he accept a position change. But that does not appear to be pending right now.
If the Rangers sign Brian McCann with the plan to use him regularly at DH while Geovany Soto catches, does that increase the value of Robinson Chirinos or even Brett Nicholas for a bench role since both would be able to serve as an emergency catcher without losing the DH spot?
-- Jared S., Fort Worth, Texas
Yes. If the Rangers do sign McCann -- they are definitely making the attempt -- it still seems likely they will need a backup catcher behind Soto. Nicholas is interesting. He had a strong year at Double-A Frisco, hits left-handed and can also play first base.
Do the Rangers have any interest in Cuban catcher Yenier Bello? What is his projection for performance in MLB?
-- Greg H., Amarillo, Texas
The Rangers are well aware of Bello's situation, but he has not been cleared to play in the United States after defecting from Cuba. He is a right-handed hitter with some power and a strong throwing arm. The Rangers still believe Jorge Alfaro will be their catcher in one or two years, and they are probably more inclined to spend their money on McCann while letting Soto do the majority of the catching right now.
Theoretically, let say the Rangers get McCann and also get Carlos Beltran (both offered arbitration and both you have to give up Draft picks to get) and also for argument's sake another team signs Nelson Cruz. Trying to confirm if the Rangers in this case will lose their first- and second-round Draft picks and get a sandwich pick between these rounds?
-- Jason S., Dallas
Yes, that is exactly what will happen under the circumstances you described. It would also be a positive move for the Rangers. They can survive the loss of a Draft pick for the right free agent.
Look, Draft picks are important and a productive farm system is vitally important. But the Rangers have been able to develop an excellent farm system despite not having a sparkling record as far as their first-round picks. Their second-round selections haven't been too productive either. Their best picks in recent years -- Jackson, Mike Olt, Joey Gallo, Tanner Scheppers, Tommy Hunter, Julio Borbon -- have come in that sandwich area.
What would you think if the Rangers could re-sign Cruz, sign McCann and trade Profar and one other Minor Leaguer for Rays pitcher David Price? Can the Rangers do this salary-wise and would you?
-- Jeff M., Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Here is a package that could get Price to Texas: Profar, Jackson, Alfaro and first baseman Mitch Moreland. So you add Beltran, McCann and one other high-priced first baseman to be named later, and maybe you have a good chance of winning this season or next year. You also deliver another huge hit on the farm system that keeps getting eroded by these type of trades. Price is going to be an expensive acquisition for somebody and it will take more than a couple of prospects.
I understand that during last season, the Rangers tried to put together a deal with Miami for outfielder Giancarlo Stanton. Any chance that might happen now that they have a new general manager? What would it take to get him?
-- Ray B., Cedar Hill, Texas
The Marlins insist that Stanton is not going to be traded. He just turned 24 and still has three seasons to go before he can become a free agent. If they did put Stanton on the market, it would be for a package comparable or better than the one the Rays would demand for Price.
What is the reason Adrian Beltre does not hit third? He's the best hitter on the team.
-- Jim S., Spring, Texas
Manager Ron Washington strongly believes that the No. 4 spot requires a veteran disciplined hitter who is not going to chase breaking balls out of the strike zone. The two spots in the lineup Washington really thinks about long and hard are leadoff and cleanup.
While it would be a power sacrifice, any chance of Profar at third base and Beltre at first? Possibly save Beltre's hamstrings.
-- Greg H., Amarillo, Texas
That was my solution, but it doesn't seem to have gained any traction. The Rangers prefer Profar somewhere in the middle and Beltre probably isn't ready to move off third base. But if has another physically challenging year, the Rangers will need to explore options.
If the Rangers signed Mike Napoli, what should they do about Moreland? Would they trade him or move him to the outfield?
-- Colton M., San Antonio
The Rangers could certainly use a right-handed power hitter, but in talking with Napoli at the American League Championship Series, it just doesn't seem like a reunion is likely unless he has no other viable options. He more than likely will, and a return to the Red Sox would be at the top of the list.
After watching the reversed call in Game 1 of the World Series, why don't the Rangers show all close plays on the big screen at the stadium? Even if it doesn't favor the Rangers, I know from outfield seats it's hard to see bang-bang plays. I think it would be a good way to get more fan involvement and support.
-- Jason T., Durant, Okla.
Umpires do not like close plays being shown on the big screen because of possible adverse fan reaction. This goes back more than 30 years to the advent of the video boards in ballparks. But that was back when I was spending $5 for a box seat at Candlestick Park. Now that instant replay is coming, it would seem that fans paying big money have the right to see the same thing as those watching on television.